French President Reaffirms Early Withdrawal From Afghanistan

Posted May 18th, 2012 at 2:20 pm (UTC-5)
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French President Francois Hollande is reaffirming his pledge to withdraw French troops from Afghanistan a year earlier than planned.

The newly-elected leader told U.S. President Barack Obama that he stands by his campaign pledge to pull out French combat forces by the end of this year.

Following talks with President Obama in Washington, Mr. Hollande told reporters that his country will continue to support the Afghan mission, just “in a different way.” He did not give details.

France has some 3,500 troops serving in Afghanistan as part of the 130,000 member international force.

NATO has pledged to withdraw most of its combat troops by the end of 2014, with coalition forces in the process of transferring security responsibility to their Afghan counterparts.

The French president's comments Friday come as Afghan President Hamid Karzai and leaders of the foreign donor nations prepare to meet Sunday in Chicago to finalize details of the withdrawal and outline future international assistance to Kabul.

In eastern Afghanistan on Friday, a rocket attack killed two NATO service members. Local coalition officials say six other NATO troops were slightly wounded Friday in the Nari district of Kunar province.

So far this year, at least 154 coalition service members have been killed in Afghanistan.

Officials say another insurgent rocket attack in the Watapoor district of Kunar killed two women and a child on Friday.